Wednesday, October 26th 2011

R&D: Future Computers Could Be Powered By Living Gut Bugs

Boffins at Imperial College London have been researching the use of bacteria to create standard logic gates such as AND, NOR & NOT to construct a living computer with. They have actually created working prototypes that give the correct logical outputs for the corresponding inputs. The bacteria used was the common E. coli found in the gut and as typical food poisoning in a meal from a bad restaurant.

The scientists have also shown that these gates can be connected together combinatorialy, to provide complex logic functions, something that's critical to building any kind of digital circuit that is to have a useful function, such as a processor, no matter how simple. This original work, published in Nature magazine is worded in highly technical scientific language and is not easily understandable by us mere untrained mortals. However, for those that wish to dare try, click here. Here's a small sample:

The circuits were assembled using a parts-based engineering approach of quantitative characterization, modelling, followed by construction and testing. The results show that new genetic logic devices can be engineered predictably from novel native orthogonal biological control elements using quantitatively in-context characterized parts.
What?!

Despite this complexity, as with most ideas in science, the underlying idea is actually quite simple to understand: these living bugs are put together in such a way as to make a digital logic gate. However, these logic gates don't use signals in electrical form, but instead use proteins expressed by genes as their inputs and outputs. Because these gates are modelled on the standard forms used in digital computers for the last 60+ years, they function in an equivalent way.

No word on performance compared to silicon, which one would expect to be much faster, their operating lifetime (they die?) or the possible uses of such devices in a future PC, yet. It looks like these types of living circuits are best suited for such applications as use within the body to detect things such as cancer, preventing heart attacks by cleaning arteries, plus neutralizing toxins in the environment, among a host of other possibilities. Note that just because one can't currently think of a use for this in a desktop PC, it doesn't mean that it can't happen. Many scientific discoveries and inventions didn't find their true purpose for years, with a fine example being the laser. The principle was established in 1917 by Einstein in his work 'On the Quantum Theory of Radiation', but working devices didn't appear until the late 1940s and it took decades longer until lasers were fully exploited commercially, but now they are everywhere.Sources: Nature, PC World
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34 Comments on R&D: Future Computers Could Be Powered By Living Gut Bugs

#1
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
how do i overclock gut bugs?
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#2
NinkobEi
by: cdawall
how do i overclock gut bugs?
methamphetamine?
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#3
Inceptor
Nice bit of engineer-speak in the quote there.

lol

And I thought the biotech research fad of the 90s was at a low ebb...interesting.
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#4
jmcslob
So that give you Smart Diarrhea...

I eat what I want swallow the PC bugs and they clean out the crap I eat....by giving me Smart Intelligent designed Diarrhea..Awesome :D
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#5
xBruce88x
so it'll be a good thing if a computer has a few bugs in it in the future? lets hope software wont have as many bugs...
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#6
Focus182
Going be interesting to see how far they can take this and what things it could be used for.

Hopefully it will lead somewhere and not a dead-end. It Doesn't sound like it would ever be suitable for normal uses though.
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#7
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
by: Ninkobwi
methamphetamine?
hmmm that or some prime coke.
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#8
xBruce88x
hmm... next up... bug powered hybrid Volkswagen beetles.
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#9
mediasorcerer
welcome to the borg,
assimilate or die!!

a core 2700ke coli
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#10
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
to overclock your cpu just take a nice dump.
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#11
fusionblu
So the theory is that this would be integrated into PCs in around 50 to 100 years... I sure we will be alive by then to use this new technology and read reviews for them to pick the best one. :laugh:

EDIT: I thought of a new virus in associated with this new technology, the E-skunk coli virus, it makes your PC slow by temporarily under clocking all hardware settings and your PC uses more power since the PC is decieved into believing it is on the munchies. :D
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#12
ViperXTR
several decades later, the technological improvements manage to create artificial beings just like humans, it thinks, it has real meat, it has emotions and it will rule the world '__'
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#13
JATownes
by: xBruce88x
hmm... next up... bug powered hybrid Volkswagen beetles.
A bug powered bug! I would love to see how they market this!

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#15
Steven B
nice find, but that language in the original article isn't that complex lol, its a standard write up.

kind of gross tho, and how reliable can something like this be?
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#16
Mussels
Moderprator
inb4 'why am i lagging? ffs!"


"did you feed the CPU *and* the GPU? Noob."
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#17
micropage7
by: cdawall
how do i overclock gut bugs?
wha ha ha :roll: nice question :toast:
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#18
RejZoR
So now at the doctor's they'll also ask you: "Were you handling any CPU's recently?" when you'll get infected by E. coli. Nice :D
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#19
nINJAkECIL
someday,computer,internet etc will be integrated into human beings.Powered by our own energy.
And we'll have virtual intercourse to replace usual way.
I'm sooo against that!
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#20
Goodman
A chance of this becoming self-aware?
You know evolution...

The War man vs the Bug computers , time for some heavy duty exterminators spray gun's :laugh:
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#21
laszlo
connect a display to your steak and watch news till you eat it all
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#22
NC37
Someone say Chobits? I'll take some of that!!
Posted on Reply
#23
Black Panther
Senior Moderatorâ„¢
So the time has come where you really can get a virus from your computer...


What about feeding them? And would I have to clean out their poop as well? Would they smell?
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#24
n-ster
Damn, I have to choose whether to let the cat have E-coli, or let my computer overheat... I'll go with side case open, sorry cat :p
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#25
Mr McC
Very interesting development. It seems that the distinction between the terrarium and the home computer might be blurred in the future.
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